Products We Use

The girls at our local Do-It Center told us this was so popular they couldn't keep it on the shelf. It's pricey at $24.00 for three pounds and I didn't buy it when they told me to. Well, I went back and they were out and it took two weeks to get my hands on a bag. We highly recommend it and would buy it again.

This product is from Lilly Miller and we needed to acidify our pepper garden as the PH was at 8.5 and we wanted to drop it to approximately 6.5. A liberal scattering by hand and our little 6'x6' pepper garden has never looked better.

The guys at Loews said this was by far and away the most popular soil amendment they sold. We bought 10 bags @ $5.95 a bag and it looks like black dirt when you open it. We really liked the quality of this product and would buy it again.

The pest control product we use,(besides a live trap)is from Osh Hardware. It's a sprayer that you attach to the garden hose it is premixed and is strong enough to kill bugs but doesn't seem to hurt the plants. It's called Ready-to-Spray Multipurpose Yard & Garden Insect Killer. We would love to grow completely organic but some of these bugs are not only tougher then hell but they have big appetite's also. So we don't fool around with them, we just kill them and be done with it.

As this list grows we will continue to update it. If we can save you the trouble of experimenting with products that don't work, you will have more time to enjoy your garden.

Baby Afghan

It has been raging hot is southern CA for a few days (105+) giving, guess who a chance to finish a project started a couple weeks ago.

Pole Bean & Squash Sushi

Mrs. Thumb out did herself with this one. On the creativity scale this was a 10. Sliced the squash length wise in small diameter pieces and dip both the beans and pieces of squash in tempura batter and fry in hot oil. Shrimp was also batter fried in hot oil. Combine all three items and roll into a nice sushi roll, adding avocado slices to the top. Take a sharp knife cut into bite size pieces and there you have it. Pole bean and crookneck squash sushi. (great dipped in soy sauce)


We have always attempted to grow certain herbs with some success. This has been a great year for the herb garden. Cool at night and not so hot during the day. We try and use starts when ever we can and this is a tray of assorted Parsley, Basil, Cilantro, Chives and Peppers.

This is sweet basil which is a must have in any herb garden. I use it a lot and it is nice to be able to just walk outside and pick some whenever I need it.

This is a oregano and grows up to become a very large plant.

This is a perennial variety of basil. It is not as strong but will last through the winter.

Tarragon is in the upper right corner, thyme is in the lower right corner and the remainder is a mixture of parsley, cilantro and a basil plant poking through the mix.

This plant is marjoram which also grows quickly to become a rather large plant.

This is a rosemary bush.

This is a sage plant, which is also a bush and has pretty pink flowers in winter.

This is my prized dill patch. I cook a lot of Middle Eastern food and dill is a staple.

Crookneck Squash

The big surprise this year is the huge plant and huge amount of squash this Crookneck start has yielded. We have had to spray to keep the aphids under control, but overall this plant has been fun to grow with very little maintenance. We have been eating these things as fast as we can, and this batch is going to used for squash bread.(like zucchnni bread)

Here you can see a couple big yellow flowers hiding under the foliage.

This monster is growing out of the planter and just keeps on producing.

New Pressure Caner

It is all starting to grow faster then we can eat it. Not complaining here and we do some blanching every year, but Mrs. Thumb thought a Pressure Caner was in order for this year.

If you have any favorite recipes you would like to share we will post them for everyone to use. Just put it in the comments or email to

We found out squash is not good caned, so we'll try some squash bread.

Koegels Hot Dogs and More

If you are from the Midwest you probably know about Koegel's Viennas. They are the King of Hot Dog, and Mrs. Thumbs Aunt Elizabeth just sent us some. Dinner included Crooknecks, Zucchini, and some store bought Eggplant.

Some nice looking pole beans. These are starting to produce more then we can eat and the bag in the frig keeps getting bigger.

We also discovered an attack on the tomato's. Bugs are very clever and will hide amongst all the vegetation. They multiply extremely fast and will do a lot of damage to a plant if you are not paying attention. One look at this little cluster of eggs and we knew we had to spray the entire tomato patch.

Starting to Pay Off

No tomatoes yet, but the work is starting to pay off. The herbs on the top from left to right are thyme, tarragon, and basil. Veggies from left to right are crookneck squash, yellow, green, and black pole beans, jalapeno peppers, snap peas, peppers, more peas. I missed a couple strawberries in the middle.

Strawberry Yogurt

Strawberry's make great ground cover, and if you plan on eating them you will need to control the bugs, and slugs, and snails. The best way we found to do that is to use a safe pesticide. It seems these little pests like the berry's as much or more then we do. I will say if you have the time to take care of them it is worth the effort. Some friends of ours from Grand Marais, MN who winter in the Santa Clarita Valley dropped off a potted strawberry plant on our front porch. That's all it took as a runner got into the front planter and we now have fresh strawberry's, about a bowl full every other day.
Nothing like a fresh bowl of berry's. This particular bowl is getting cut up and put into home made yogurt.
Here is the berries all cut up mixed with a little honey and ready for the yogurt to be poured in. Mrs. Thumb makes the yogurt herself with a simple recipe.

Jajik (yogurt and dill dip)

Jajik is a mixture of plain yogurt, cream cheese, cottage cheese, dill, peppers (to taste), stewed celery, and green onions.
Mrs. Thumb's Middle Eastern back ground coming into play here. Some fresh dill and a couple peppers from the garden, and she created a great tasting healthy dip.
The end result, a bowel of Jajik and fresh home made bread.

Can You Say Salsa

These are store bought tomatoes, but the peppers are ours. Jalapeno, sweet Hungarian, yellow chillies, and Anaheim, making for a nice warm but not to hot salsa. Not in the picture, but an important item is garlic. We do not grow them simple because they are relatively cheap in the store. If you have time to roast the Tomatoes and peppers it really adds a richness to the flavor.
A closeup of a green bell pepper about the size of a half dollar.
The pepper garden gets its own space. It is about 6' x 6' and is located in the front yard planter where it gets direct mid-day sun. Mrs. Thumb likes her peppers and this year we took the time to test the PH of the dirt. It was approximately 8.60 with 7.0 being neutral. We needed to take it down to 6.50 to really make the plants happy, so we added two bags of Azalea dirt as well as a couple hand fulls of Aammonium sulfate.
What a huge difference it made. We have always had some success with the pepper garden, but it has never been this happy. We planted over 40 starts in this area and stake them up when they get about 18" high. Click the picture to see a close up of some happy pepper plants.

Blossom the Possum

Every year we get our share of these creatures. We have cats and the possums seem to smell the cat food, as well as all the great veggies growing around the house.

We have three grape vines in the back yard that have morphed into a stripped green and red seedless variety. Well, as the clusters were developing this year, they started to disappear one by one. Guess who was stopping by every night.
Mrs. Thumb likes to name every little creature that happens to wonder through the property. All possums are named Blossom, be it Blossom Jr, Little B, Big B, Mr. Blossom or even Mrs. Blossom, but you get the picture.
This young one was named Little B.
The strong arm of the Law has arrived. That will teach you Blossom, Do not eat the grapes!

This is the third Blossom this year. Usually we just rent a live trap at $3.00 a day, but it has become easier to just buy a trap. Two days ago we made a trip to our local Osh Hardware Store and spent $70.00 and the trap will remain set every night. We call our local Animal Control Center in town and the send an official looking person, uniform and all to come and get our captive. They release them unharmed into the wild outside of town.

Possums are night time creatures so it is important to keep them in a cool shaded area with some water until Animal Control picks them up. No reason to hurt the little buggers for doing what they do naturally.

If you have any pictures of critters invading your garden we would love to post them.

Beans and Peas

Both beans and peas grow easily from seed and don't mind getting crowed together. We have found whatever the seed package recommends you can double or even triple the amount of seeds you plant.

We planted green, yellow, and black pole beans from seed that have been fun to watch and are now producing a pretty good crop. In the above picture you can see where they have climbed up into the tree. The picture doesn't show very well but they have climbed up about 6 feet.
Here you see what to expect from your pole beans. These are green and yellow mixed. Stay tuned to see what we did with these.
You can see some of the black beans growing in this picture. They are really a nice deep purple color, and if you look closely you can see a pea pod or two also.

We just steam these until tender, add a little butter and it doesn't get any better.
Here is a second crop of pole beans and sunflowers. The sunflowers have a dual purpose in shading and something else for the beans to climb. If you look closely you can see some bush peas, parsley, basil, and marjoram. It seems like it might be overcrowding, but in reality the plants grow better together.
This is the front of the house that gets morning sun with more pole beans. It's a little area about 5' x 2' but has a lot growing in there. Besides the beans there is a cucumber on the left side, peas climbing the trellis and parsley, (second cutting) thyme, tarragon, and basil.

This area is on the side of the house for morning sun. More pole beans, look closely, peas, bush cucumbers, a nice patch of dill, and the big zucchini.
This stuff was great eating. We barbecued squash, beans, zucchini, and a store bought eggplant. All we did was brushed both sides of the veggies with a mixture of crushed garlic and extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt and cracked pepper, then sprinkled some Penzeys 3000 BBQ seasoning. If you have never had barbecued beans you are missing out on an incredible flavor and crunch.

Tomato's (The Big Crop)

The bulk of the Tomato crop with giant sunflowers to provide a little afternoon shade. We usually devote about a quarter of the available dirt for this crop.

This is a nice cluster of four Beefsteak Tomatoes. We bought 2 six packs of mixed starts. I don't remember them all except for Cherry and Beefsteak.

A Nice Early Harvest

Some Crookneck Squash and our first Zucchini of the year. This stuff is destined for the barbecue.
6/18/09 A single Huge Crookneck has an unbelievable amount of squash. For the two of us there is no way to keep up with this monster.
The Zucchini is playing catchup with the squash and starting to produce now. These are amazing vegetables with many different ways to cook them. If you look close you will see five different herbs tucked in the picture.